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Vancouver Washington Social Security Disability Law Blog

Computer system to speed up SSDI process still not ready

Delays are the unfortunate norm for many people who have applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, or have appealed a rejected application. An initial SSDI application takes an average of more than 100 days to process. SSDI appeals take even longer, with an average of more than 400 days before it is resolved.

Obviously, any upgrades to the Social Security Administration’s system for processing claims and appeals would be welcomed -- if those upgrades are successful.

Nordstrom features disabled models in its catalog

Fashion alert: Nordstrom has released its annual July catalog. While thumbing through the issue, you might notice one way that the Washington-based retail chain’s publication is nearly unique among its competitors -- some of its models are disabled.

Clothing advertisements featuring disabled people are rare, but Nordstrom Inc.’s ads have been a notable exception. The company started using models with disabilities in its annual catalog in 1997.

Study suggest lead may cause more mental disorders in children

We have known for a long time that exposing children to lead is bad for them. Children who consume lead, such as in old paint chips, are at risk of developing cognitive and behavioral problems that may last the rest of their lives.

For this reason, in 1977 the U.S. banned the use of lead in many paints, toys and furniture. However, children may still inadvertently consume lead and become disabled as a result. Some families may need to turn to Supplemental Security Insurance, also known as SSI, to help pay for their child’s medical care, therapy and educational needs.

Closure of SSA offices reducing access for many SSDI applicants

As we mentioned in our previous blog post, it is not uncommon for disabled people in Washington state to wait months, sometimes years, before the Social Security Administration grants them the Social Security Disability benefits to which they are entitled.

Part of this is due to the growth in the number of people seeking SSDI benefits in recent years. Currently, about 11 million people receive the benefits, a 38 percent increase from 2004. Applications and appeals have backed up in many parts of the U.S., causing long delays in the decision-making process.

Social Security Disability judges under congressional scrutiny

Many people in Vancouver wait months and even years for the Social Security Disability benefits they deserve. In fact, the majority of Social Security Disability claims are initially denied, forcing many deserving people to file appeals. It might be surprising to many such individuals when reports appear in the news about Social Security judges rubber-stamping disability claims.

The Social Security Disability program is in financial crisis, and it has been estimated that the trust fund that supports the program will run dry by 2016. In light of this, some SSD judges are being scrutinized for high rates of approvals in appeals cases. If some judges are green-lighting nearly 100 percent of their appeals claims, why do we hear of so many people with disabilities who receive denial after denial?

Unemployment rate for disabled Americans nearly twice as high

The Labor Department has released some interesting data about disabled people in the U.S. and the employment rate. Just one in six Americans with disabilities had a job in 2013, a slight reduction from the previous year.

Some of this low employment rate was likely due to the troubled economy, which keeps many Americans in general unemployed or underemployed. However, many disabled people don’t have a job because their condition keeps them from having full-time employment. Perhaps they sustained injuries in an accident, or an illness or genetic condition has worsened to the point that work has become impossible.

ERs seeing far more brain injury patients than years ago

A brain injury can have a profound impact on the victim’s cognitive and physical abilities. Or a series of smaller blows can add up to debilitating conditions like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Whether the damage comes right away or builds up gradually, a brain injury may make it impossible to continue working. Without the ability to earn an income, many people with a brain injury have turned to Social Security Disability Insurance for help.

There has been a great deal of discussion of brain trauma in the news media the past few years. Much of that focuses on sports injuries and traumatic brain injuries (or TBIs) suffered by soldiers in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. But a head injury can happen to anyone, for instance in a car accident or a simple slip and fall.

Gene identified that may lead to schizophrenia

Though what causes schizophrenia is not known, there appears to be a genetic component to this often-severe mental disorder. Overall, around 1 percent of the U.S. population has schizophrenia. For those who have a first degree relative with the condition -- that is, a parent or sibling -- the diagnosis rate is closer to 10 percent.

Finding an accurate way of testing for genetic signs of possible schizophrenia early in a person’s life could allow that person to be diagnosed earlier and begin treatment to help manage the disorder, which can cause hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking. Since schizophrenia often does not appear until the patient is between the ages of 16 and 30, this could help them in their education and careers.

Heart disease can strike at almost any age

Heart disease may seem like something that strikes older, retired people. But the condition can impact people in their 30s, who are still in the early stages of their careers. Many people who develop heart disease are married with young children. For these reasons, people who are forced to stop working because of heart disease may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

A meteorologist from outside of Washington state was in her early thirties when she first experienced signs of heart disease. Chest pains sent her to the emergency room several times. She also saw cardiologists, but the doctors who examined her repeatedly told her that she was suffering from stress and her heart was fine.

Making SSDI claims through the Compassionate Allowances program

There are now 225 medical conditions listed as a part of the Compassionate Allowance program applicable to Social Security disability insurance. This program allows applicants with conditions on the listing to have their applications submitted for fast-track review.

The conditions involve illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and neurological disorders that often prove to be fatal. Under the normal process of applying for SSDI, the concern would be that applicants will succumb to their illnesses before their applications are even reviewed and any assistance was provided.

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